Our Investment in Realtime Surgical Assistance – Activ Surgical™ Raises $15 Million to Advance Autonomous and Collaborative Surgery

By Brent MacDonald – Principal @ Rising Tide VC

A surgeon’s decision-making abilities during a procedure are indubitably seconded by none. However, certain steps in any surgery–even in standard surgical procedures–require surgeons to make decisions based on not only what they can see, but what they cannot see as well. Regularly, surgeons are forced to make vital decisions during surgery based on intuition and prior experience. Activ Surgical, the company that completed the world's first autonomous robotic surgery of soft tissue, is building “ActivEdge”™, a hardware-agnostic surgical software platform that empowers minimally invasive surgical systems to autonomously collaborate with surgeons. The first product on the ActivEdge platform is “ActivSight” (video here), an intelligent light system that augments surgical vision in real-time, providing surgeons with information not currently available today. The initial target market is the 12.4 million most common laparoscopic procedures, where perfusion and critical structure identification are crucial to optimal outcomes. Anastomotic leaks account for a 13-30% hospital re-admission rate in Activ Surgical’ s focus markets.[1]

In 2016, inspired by a vision to democratize surgery, Activ Surgical performed the first fully-autonomous suturing of soft tissue, outperforming open, laparoscopic, and robot-assisted techniques (STAR). This breakthrough achievement demonstrates a new realm of possibility for medical technology.

Activ Surgical will also participate in the Qualcomm Smart Cities Accelerator Program. Through this collaboration, healthcare systems around the U.S. will leverage the ActivEdge platform to improve patient outcomes. This partnership also links the company to Innominds, a product engineering services company helping Activ Surgical develop AI-powered digital surgery tools, furthering its mission to empower surgeons to achieve the best possible outcomes and save lives

Why We Are Excited:

Activ Surgical is backed by over 100 years of MedTech experience in its senior leadership team. The company spun out of research conducted by its founder—Dr. Peter Kim. Company CEO is Todd Usen a seasoned leader with more than 25 years of medical device and healthcare experience.

Activ Surgical presents a compelling opportunity for investment as it is focused on propelling the surgical robotics standards while mitigating risk from a regulatory perspective. While achieving full autonomy will be challenging and likely a long road ahead across all surgical robotics, the company’s strategy to implement autonomy in shorter portions of surgeries (like suturing) provides a stepwise change towards larger autonomy. The company’s software and sensing platform works dynamically with the installed base of surgical visualization and robotics systems to provide real time intraoperative visual data and images not currently available to surgeons through existing technologies. The ActivEdge Platform will likely allow other traditional robotics companies to enter the surgical space and create an accelerated push where both robots and surgeons have collaborative decision-making capabilities.

Activ Surgical’s funding round was led by ARTIS Ventures. Joining the round was LRVHealth, along with participation from existing investors DNS Capital, GreatPoint Ventures, Tao Capital Partners and Rising Tide. To date, Activ Surgical has raised a total of $32 million.

Read the full press release here.

Rising Tide Fund Managers, LLC and its affiliates (“Rising Tide” or “We”) is a United States venture capital firm investing primarily in the information technology and healthcare / life sciences markets. Over the last 35 years, we have partnered with family funds, high-impact investors, and strategic partners to help launch and expand startups in a variety of industries across three continents. We are dedicated to cooperating with our entrepreneurs at all stages: from financing to leveraging our international networks to facilitating exits by design. For more information, visit www.rtf.vc.

The portfolio companies described herein do not represent all the portfolio companies purchased, sold or recommended for portfolios advised by Rising Tide. The reader should not assume that an investment in the portfolio companies identified were or will be profitable. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Investors should be aware that a loss of investment is possible.

[1] Journal of the Society of Laparoscopic & Robotic Surgeons. JSLS. 2019 Oct-Dec; 18(4): e2014.00154.